A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, June 19, 1881, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/29/2013
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted. [Isa 61:1]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1604, “Heart Disease Curable” 1604]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2371, “Freedom at Once and For Ever” 2372]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3104, “Binding Up Broken Hearts” 3105]
[See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3237, “Our Lord’s Preaching (Short Sermon)” 3238]
Exposition on 2Sa 15:13-23 Isa 61; Mr 14:22-41 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3431, “King Passing Over Kidron, The” 3433 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Isa 61 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2478, “Christ’s Perfection and Precedence” 2479 @@ "Exposition"]
Exposition on Isa 61 [See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2543, “Good Reasons for a Good Resolution” 2544 @@ "Exposition"]
1. This text receives great lustre from the fact that it was one of the passages which the Saviour read when he entered into the synagogue at Nazareth and preached on the Sabbath day. It is as fresh as ever, and we may still say of it, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.” It is a great privilege that we poor under-shepherds should be permitted to take the same text as “that great Shepherd of the sheep.” Our care must be to point to him in it. I intended to have preached from these words in Lu 4:18, but when I looked at the 1881 English Revised Version and found that the words were not there at all I was somewhat startled. I began to ask whether the omission was a correct one or not; and, without a making pretence to scholarship, I feel convinced that the revisers are acting honestly in leaving it out. It was not in the original manuscript of Luke, but probably some pious person added it with the intention of making the quotation more complete. Whatever the intention may have been and however natural the added words may appear, it is a pity that the unknown brother ventured to improve what was perfect from the beginning. After thinking over in my mind the fact, which I accept, that the passage was not written by Luke in his record, I have, I think, discovered the reason. When our Saviour unrolled the book of Isaiah he read from it; but we are not certain that he read any one passage through. According to the Jewish law it was allowed in the prophets for the reader in the synagogue to skip, as we call it, to make selections, and read a passage here and there, as he strove at bringing out his subject. As the words are given in our Authorized Version you will notice that the portion of Scripture is not exactly like the prophetic words in Isaiah 61, and that one sentence at least must have been taken from another part of the prophetic book. The Saviour did read from Isaiah 61, but he also quoted other portions of Isaiah, probably taking a verse here and there, and blending them into one, just as sometimes when I wish to give you a connected narrative I read on in a chapter, say to verse eight, and then skip verses down to verse sixteen, and again read on to verse twenty-four, and skip a few verses again. The Saviour gave a resume of texts which stood near each other upon the roll, and Luke records those upon which our Lord dwelt in his sermon.
2. “But,” you say, “why, then, if it is so, did he omit the words which describe him as sent ‘to bind up the broken-hearted?’ ” It may possibly have been his intention to leave out all allusion to healing. They were all expecting him to work miracles of healing that day, and, therefore, he either omitted the sentence for the moment or else he did not dwell upon it; for I take it that Luke is not giving us the Scripture exactly, but the sense of it, and those points in the Scripture upon which the Saviour enlarged. He probably gives us notes of those sentences which were both read and expounded, and the Lord may have purposely refused to expound even if he read the sentence before us: “He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” I say they were expecting him to work miracles of healing and he did not intend to gratify them. We are told that “he could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” He did not intend to exhibit himself as a mere wonder-worker, and hence only lightly touched upon the sentence about healing until further on, when he saw, as he read their hearts, that they noticed the omission, and he therefore said to them, “You will surely say, ‘Physician, heal yourself,’ ” — which, being paraphrased, may run like this, — “You either did not read that passage, or else you treated it lightly, and yet a part of the Messiah’s business is to heal the sick.”
3. He perceived that by his own silence he had called their attention to the Scripture, and that they were ready to quote it against him by the challenge, “Physician, heal yourself. Do for your own family and city what you are said to have done at Capernaum.” Our Lord paid no attention to claims based upon his living in the place, for he knows no claim but that of mercy. He intended to exercise his sovereignty, and therefore he reminded them that healing was not sent to the lepers who were in Israel, but was sent only to Naaman, who had nothing to do with Israel, but was one from that Syrian nation which opposed and oppressed Israel.
4. Possibly he gave them nothing about healing that day, because he knew that they were not broken-hearted. He who reads men’s hearts knew that they were captives to their unbelief, blinded by prejudice, and fettered by sin, and therefore he said, “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord”; but the most tender part of the gospel being inapplicable to their case, he would not mention it in their hearing at that time. He would not cast it like a pearl before swine; but reserved it until they should lament their sin and adopt another mood. This, it strikes me, is the reason why the passage is not mentioned in the original gospel of Luke; and, if so, the omission is most instructive. Take heed lest you also should miss the sweetest word of the gospel through being in an unfit state to receive it.
5. Concerning the fact of difference between the Revised and the Authorized Versions, I would say that no Baptist should ever fear any honest attempt to produce the correct text, and an accurate interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. For many years Baptists have insisted upon it that we ought to have the Word of God translated in the best possible manner, whether it would confirm certain religious opinions and practices, or work against them. All we want is the exact mind of the Spirit, as far as we can get it. Beyond all other Christians we are concerned in this, since we have no other sacred book; we have no Prayer-Book or binding creed, or authoritative minutes of conference; we have nothing but the Bible; and we would have that as pure as we can ever get it. By the best and most honest scholarship that can be found we desire that the common version may be purged of every blunder of transcribers, or addition of human ignorance, or human knowledge, so that the word of God may come to us as it came from his own hand. I confess that it looks like a grievous thing to part with words which we thought were part and parcel of Luke; but since they are not in the oldest copies, and must be given up, we will make capital out of their omission, by seeing in that fact the wisdom of the great Preacher, who did not speak upon cheering truths when they were not needed, and might have blunted his seasonable rebuke.
6. Although we do not have the sentence in Luke we have it in Isaiah, and that is quite enough for me. Indeed, if it were not in Isaiah, it is still in other parts of the word. Its meaning pervades the Bible: it is the very genius and spirit of the Old and New Testaments, that the Messiah is sent to heal the broken-hearted. The gospel comes that the miseries of men may be assuaged, that the despair of the troubled may be cheered, and that joy may glitter on all sides like the dew of the morning when the sun arises.
7. I pray that the commission of Jesus Christ may be fulfilled today for all the broken-hearted ones to whom the word of this message shall come. I hope there are none here who claim a right to healing; for, if so, the Lord will not listen to them. He will do as he wills with his own; for it is written, “He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.” The men of Nazareth claimed it in the synagogue that day, because he had lived among them, and so Jesus did not speak of healing them. Jesus gives freely, but if any man demands anything of him as his due, he is jealous for his crown rights, and will pay no regard to such insulting demands. His healing work is not of debt, but of grace; not granted to presumptuous demands, but frankly bestowed as a free gift.
8. Now turn to the text. “He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Here are three matters for consideration: heart wounds; heavenly healing; and an honoured Healer.
9. I. First, let us think upon HEART WOUNDS.
10. Many in this world live with broken hearts, a broken limb of any kind is bad; bruised and wounded flesh is hard enough to bear; but when the fracture is in the heart, it is a sad business. Of all cases of distress, these are the most pitiable, and yet they are very frequently despised. When a man’s spirit is cowed, and his heart is crushed, and he is despairing and utterly wretched, others get away from him, for he is dreary company. Just as the herd leaves the wounded stag to bleed and die alone, so do men instinctively avoid the company of those who are habitually gloomy. Their own desire after happiness leads men to escape from the miserable. Be joyful and you shall attract; be sorrowful and you will scatter. Job truly says, “A lamp is despised in the thought of one who is at ease; It is made ready for those whose feet slip.” [Job 12:5] The careless, the giddy, the superficial look with horror upon those whose thoughtfulness rebukes them; while the prosperous and happy view them with reluctance because they remind them of sorrows which otherwise they might forget. God has struck some men, and their hearts are severely broken beneath his rod, therefore their companions hide their faces from them and despise them. Many blame them, and say they ought to shake off their gloom, and make an effort to be brave. I do not know all they say; but it is certain that among the despised and rejected by men we find a company who carry with them heart-breaks day and night.
11. What wonder that they are frequently avoided. Common humanity calls us to help those who are injured in limb, and if there is an accident in the street a crowd will soon be gathered, and human kindness will exhibit itself; but if there is breakage of the heart, sympathy is soon exhausted, and love itself grows weary of her hopeless efforts to console. Those who are taught by God will help the broken-hearted, but human sympathy is soon worn out because it is conscious of its inability to help. You can set a limb, and the bones will grow; but what can we do in the resetting of a fractured heart? So, not liking to attempt the impossible, not caring to be continually baffled, it seems to be natural even for good men to not desire the company of the desolate. Thus these unhappy ones are doomed to sigh out, “Lover and friend have you put far from me, and my acquaintance into darkness.” I am afraid the story of Job is more often repeated than we think. When men do come to comfort the forlorn they often become embittered by their conscious failure, and begin to upbraid, until the poor tortured creature cries out in agony, “Miserable comforters are you all.” Therefore the case of the broken-hearted is a very hard one, because they are often despised and avoided. It is happy for them that the Lord Jesus was sent to heal the broken-hearted.
12. Apart from this, it is extremely painful to have a broken heart. The heart is the centre of sensation, and hence its being broken involves the most acute pangs. Sorrow hangs over the spirit in clouds which cannot be dispelled. Not only is their cup filled with sadness, but they sit by wells of sorrow. They have long forgotten the palm trees of Elim, and they are filled with the bitter waters of Marah. They do not rest day nor night; how can they? No pain of the flesh can at all equal heaviness of heart. Give me all the aches and pains which my body can endure, but spare me the heart-ache: break me alive on the wheel, but do not let me live to be broken-hearted, unless it is from the grand cause of penitence. “Who can bear a wounded spirit?” When the arrows penetrate the soul, then the life-blood becomes as liquid fire, and the man is a mass of misery.
13. Besides, it weakens us, for when the heart is wounded the source of strength is impaired. A man who has a strong heart can do anything. However weak, and feeble, and crippled, and diseased he may be in body, yet if he keeps up his spirits he can laugh at all his pains; but if the heart is crushed, what can he do? What can he hope? what can he endure? When fear is in the heart, the grasshopper becomes a burden, those who look out of the windows are darkened, and the keepers of the house tremble. Far worse than the infirmities of old age are the miseries of a broken heart.
14. Ordinarily a broken heart is utterly incurable. How many times have I had to learn this lesson to my own deep humiliation. It has been my happy, happy lot to speak to broken-hearted ones and see them gradually rise to be of good cheer when my Lord has spoken through me; but apart from his presence, I have argued, pleaded, explained, and persuaded, but all in vain. I have been almost dragged down into the wretchedness from which I hoped to rescue my fellow man; for the sympathy I have felt for the desponding has almost made me despondent myself. What a variety of advice physicians give, and what is the good of it all? “Take a journey,” they say, “into foreign lands; see new cities, or amuse yourself among the Alps.” Yes, but if the man takes with him a heart weary of life, he is apt enough to bring it back with him; and what good has he gained? “Attend the baths; resort to the best physicians; try electrical shocks; try strong exercise.” This is all very well, for the body may need strengthening or purifying or arousing or resting, but if the secret of the disease is a broken heart, and the hammer of God has struck it, all the physicians in the world can be of no value: it shall end as with her of old, who spent all her living upon physicians and was none the better, but rather grew worse. There is a cure for this grievous malady of which we shall shortly speak; but there is none in Gilead, or in all of nature’s fields. Earthly pleasures and precepts are physicians of no value. Their ointments and their liniments, their outward oils and inward medicines are all of no avail to reach the core of our being and restore the heart. Magicians may charm ever so wisely, but they cannot charm the hemlock from the furrows of the soul. When the heart is broken who can rivet the shattered fragment? If there had been a remedy anywhere else, the Lord Jesus would not have left heaven to heal; but inasmuch as he came on this errand, depend on it no one else could have performed it.
15. This heart-break in the end will be fatal, if it is not healed. We are frequently reading of men who fall dead suddenly, and the certificate states that they died of heart disease. That is a way which physicians have of saying that they do not know what ailed the deceased. The heart is very much like Africa, an unexplored region. Mentally and spiritually it is so, and when the heart is broken true life is almost gone. Existence ceases to be desirable when the spirits fail. Such morbid minds say with Job, “My soul chooses strangling rather than life.” May God grant that none may be so wicked and foolish as to end their own lives, and so leap into the fire to escape the heat. Doubtless many have gone down to the grave, melted away in tears, dissolved in woe. Unhappy are those who live refusing to be comforted, and die rejecting the one good and great Physician, who could heal them. May none of you be of that unhappy company. It is a sad story, this tale of the broken-hearted one; but in many a house it is well known. I invite you, beloved, if you do not know the disease, to pray that you never may; and if you have any friends afflicted with it, be very tender and gentle with them. I remember the impression made upon my young heart, as a child, when I was taken to a house where there was a sad lady, always dressed in black, who said that she had committed the unpardonable sin. I remember the horror that I felt as I sat in the room with her, and wanted from very fear to get away, thinking she must be a dreadfully wicked woman. Yet she may have been one of the most gracious of Christians, and it is probable that she came out into the light again before she departed this life. These crushed ones are often the best of people. The fairest of our lilies are often broken at the stalk. Our ripest fruit is visited by the worm. Thank God, they shall yet have beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
16. II. We will now, for a little while, speak upon the HEAVENLY HEALING.
17. The Lord Jesus Christ has come into the world to bind up the broken-hearted, and surely it means all the broken-hearted. I do not think we have any right to restrict texts of Scripture, as we very often do, to square them to our theological systems. In this case you will hear the passage interpreted to mean the spiritually broken-hearted, and then people look within to see whether their pains are spiritual, and so they are kept from going to Christ. I do not mind revised versions provided they really get at the original, but I do not intend to let you revise the version by putting in such qualifying words as you may think fit. What a host of revised versions we have! Everyone has one of his own. Certain texts which will not fit into our system must be planed and cut down. Have you never seen the hard work that some brethren have to shape a Scripture to their mind? One text is not Calvinistic, it looks rather like Arminianism: of course it cannot be so, and therefore they twist and tug to get it right. As for our Arminian brethren, it is wonderful to see how they hammer away at the ninth chapter of Romans: steam-hammers and screw-jacks are nothing compared to their appliances for getting rid of election from that chapter. We have all been guilty of racking Scripture more or less, and it will be good to be finished with the evil for ever. We would be far better to be inconsistent with ourselves than with the inspired word. I have been called an Arminian Calvinist or a Calvinistic Arminian, and I am quite content as long as I can remain true to my Bible. I desire to preach what I find in this Book, whether I find it in anyone else’s book or not; and as I do not find “spiritually” in my text, I shall take the liberty of giving a wide range to this broken-heartedness.
Many are broken-hearted from a sense of guilt. This is the best
form of broken-heartedness in the world; when the hammer of God’s law
comes down with its ten strokes, and every commandment pounds the
heart to powder, it is good. When a man once hears the law of God
proclaimed from burning Sinai with voice of thunder he ceases to
trifle and is very afraid. He learns that God is angry with the
wicked every day; “if he does not turn he will whet his sword, he has
bent his bow and made it ready,” his heart fails him as he hears this
terrible declaration. Then a man is in bitterness as one who mourns
for his only son, even for his firstborn. Oh, that I ever should have
lived to make my God my enemy, that I ever should have been so base,
so ungrateful to my best friend! Oh, cursed heart, to have loved its
idols and have hated the Most High! Some of us knew in the days of
our conviction what it was to hate the light of day, and to dread the
darkness of night, to long for our bed so that we might sleep, and
yet to toss there restlessly upon a pillow harder than Jacob’s stone.
Oh sin! sin! sin! If its weight is once felt, if the terrors of God
once break loose upon an awakened conscience, the misery reaches to
agony, and the agony approaches death. But, beloved, our Lord Jesus
has come to heal the anguish of the conscience by declaring that
there is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared, and by showing
how God can be just and yet the justifier of sinners who believe.
Thus it is written, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us
from all sin”: “He who believes in him is not condemned.” Whenever
the Lord Jesus is believingly received the heart-break of remorse is
ended, and the sinner rests at the foot of the cross. When the Holy
Spirit applies the blood of atonement, the blood of the heart’s wound
ceases to flow. The griefs of Jesus end our grief; his death is the
death of our despair. Substitution is the charming word which opens
the gate of hope. This form of heart-break, if it is present here
this morning, is my Lord’s own specialty; in dealing with this he
is altogether at home, for he delights in mercy. I have seen him
apply the liniments to the wounds with tender, downy-fingered hand,
swathing the limb with bands so soft, and yet so strong, that the
gash has closed never to open again. So speedy and so sure is his
surgery that the broken heart has begun to sing as soon as he has
touched it. Do it again, great Master; do it at this very hour. Say,
poor sinner, “Lord, do it to me.” He can heal when all others have
failed. He can heal YOU now.
When wounded sore the stricken soul
Lies bleeding and unbound,
One only hand, a pierced hand,
Can salve the sinner’s wound.
Another brokenness of heart is felt by those who regard themselves as
outcasts. Few of you have ever felt that dreadful weight upon the
soul, as dreadful as a millstone around the neck. The woman whose sin
may not be in God’s sight more gross than that of others is still
regarded by society as utterly fallen and defiled, — a thing to be
flung from hand to hand, and cast on the dunghill as a faded flower.
Words cannot describe the shudder which passes over the mind of one
betrayed and deceived when she perceives that she is henceforth
numbered with castaways. A similar thing happens to the man who has
been guilty of embezzlement, or some other form of dishonesty. He is
found out, prosecuted by his employer, set before the court, and sent
to prison to be henceforth a branded criminal. Ah me! How dreadful
must be the waking up on the first morning in a prison cell. He who
was once courted will henceforth be shunned: he is a broken man
without a character, marked by all as a cast-off. Ah, poor man, poor
woman, Jesus receives sinners such as you. Some of us have known what
it is to feel as if we were excluded from hope and from the mercy of
God. We thought that he would not hear our cries; it was of no use
for us to pray, so our fears told us; God could not have mercy upon
such gross transgressors, he must leave us to ourselves and to our
sins. We thought that he had set us up to be the targets of his
arrows, and to stand, like Pharaoh, the monuments of his wrath
against the proud. Yet our fears were all false, for our Lord Jesus,
who came to bind up the broken-hearted, has bound up all our wounds,
and we are happy in him. Fallen ones, he will restore you and give
you rest. It is the glory of the Christian church that it receives
into its brotherhood the fallen and the outcasts as soon as they
repent. The world offers no room for repentance, but in the church
all are penitents. When Jesus forms the centre of a church there will
be a ring of sinners attracted. Do we not read, “Then all the tax
collectors and sinners drew near to him for to hear him?” He never
drove them back, but he welcomed them: “This man receives sinners,
and eats with them.” Listen, poor crushed one! However low you may
have fallen, come to Jesus, for he will not cast you out. Come to his
true servants, for it will be their joy to restore you. When the
gates of respectability are shut the gates of mercy and Christian
love are still open. Return, oh wanderer; a welcome awaits you.
Jesus will make you whiter than snow. Though you may well believe
that he asks himself concerning you, “How shall I include you among
the children?” yet he will do it, for he lifts the beggar from the
That Christ will receive him no sinner need fear,
The poorer the wretch the welcomer here;
Though you may be outcast and banished afar,
Your welcome is certain, come just as you are.
20. Another brokenness of heart is that of utter helplessness, in which a man feels that he is too feeble to fight the battle of life. He is not only given up by others, but he has given himself up. He floats like a deserted vessel, derelict, waterlogged, and abandoned. Sin has beset him, he has given way to temptations, and now Satan firmly binds him. Perhaps he has backslidden from the profession of religion and brought great dishonour upon the name of Christ, and now he cries, “My last end will be worse than the first. I have crucified the Lord afresh, and shall die in my sins. I neglected the means of grace, I became slack in prayer, I turned my face away from God, and now he has left me, and I cannot get back again.” Alas, for men who are bound with such fetters; the iron enters into their souls. There are some here who ran well; what hindered them that they should not obey the truth? They have gradually slipped back, back, back, until now it is a question with them whether they ever knew the grace of God in truth at all. They are grieved to have it so, and long to be restored; but despair holds them. My gracious Lord Jesus Christ comes to you, backsliders, who are filled with your own ways, who labour and are heavy laden with the fear that you are cast away for ever, and he says, “Return, you backsliding children.” He will help you to return. He will draw you and you shall run to him. The love of Jesus has not changed; he loves even to the end. He will not cast away a soul that looks to him. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Return to him this morning. He will receive you graciously and love you freely, and you shall render to him again the sacrifices of your lips as once you used to do; for Jesus heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds.
21. Many are broken in heart because they are afflicted so heavily. When sickness first comes to our door and we are new to it, it is a very unwelcome guest. New pains are sharp, fresh griefs appear intolerable; for as yet the young bull is unaccustomed to the yoke. Eventually we bear our woes more patiently, but at first the man afflicted with a disease which he knows will bring him to his grave is sadly cast down; and perhaps who sees business ebbing away, and foresees bankruptcy, and perhaps destitution, is crushed. Brother, if you receive Jesus Christ into your heart, he will ease you by teaching you a sweet submission to the divine will; he will tell you that “all things work together for good to those who love God”; he will explain to you the doctrine of providence; he will make you to consider the end of the Lord, for he is very compassionate even in his sharpest providences: and he will supply you with such strength of grace that you will be able to endure pain or poverty. So he will support you, until your heart shall become strong, and you shall bravely face the afflictions and conflicts of life.
22. Some are broken-hearted through bereavement. One laments, “I have lost my wife.” Another bemoans herself, “I have lost my husband”; or a third cries, “My mother is gone”; or a fourth with motherly tenderness mourns the dearest child who ever nestled in a woman’s bosom. “Alas,” cries each one, “I can never survive the stroke!” We have all endured sorrow but bereavements are a sharp sword. Friends can do little to fill up the great gap which death has made. Ah, it is indeed an aching void which is left in an affectionate heart when the dear object of love is torn away. The best of people in this respect suffer most. Herein is comfort from Jesus. The blessed doctrine of the resurrection cheers the darkness of the sepulchre. Jesus says, “Your brother shall rise again.” The blessed thought of the eternal felicity of those who we gladly would have detained below is a sweet compensation for their loss. We remember our Lord’s prayer, — “I will that those also whom you have given to me, be with me where I am, so that they may behold my glory.” Sometimes in prospect of losing our beloved ones we pull very hard earthward, and cry, “Father, I wish that they are with me where I am.” Did you ever feel a pull the other way, and are startled, and look to see who pulls heavenward? You watch and see that it is Jesus praying, “Father, I will that they are with me where I am.” Whenever Christ and you come to cross purposes I know you will yield, for you will gladly admit that the dear ones are more Christ’s than yours. Let them go. Jesus, we can part with our loved ones for you. It is no parting, when we know that our beloved are with you. So Jesus, who himself wept for Lazarus, heals broken hearts whose joy is buried with those they loved so well.
23. There are many other forms of this disease. I have known hearts to be thoroughly broken by desertion. One whom you loved and trusted proves false, and the early love of a true heart is broken like a potter’s vessel. What desolation fills many a soul that once was blithe as the birds; for treachery wastes like the scourge of war. When a choice friend betrays you, or a professed brother in Christian work, who ought to have held up your hands, weakens and opposes you, it is a blow upon the heart as when a bone is broken by the hammer. Yet there is consolation; for he who had his Judas and bitterly cried, “He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me,” and he knows how to bind up such a broken heart, for he becomes a friend who sticks closer than a brother, and he makes us feel in the sweet tenderness and faithfulness of his divine companionship that we are not alone, for the Lord is with us. He is better to us than ten friends. As long as his smile makes sunshine on our way, Ahithophel may join our enemies, and Judas may sell us for silver; but we are secure, for he will make the wrath of man to praise him, and neutralize its gall by the sweetness of his company.
24. I am certain that every form of broken heart present here has a medicine for it in the Word of God, and in Jesus who is the word. The leaves of this tree are for the healing of nations. Christ Jesus brings a cure-all to those who are otherwise incurable. In his dispensary there are remedies compounded by the most divine art which will touch the heart and act upon it like a charm, until it shall throb with pleasure as much as it now palpitates with anguish. This is no quackery. His is a scientific system of surgery which has borne the test of ages, and has been proved by the experience of countless sufferers to be infallible. Here we stand, ourselves, living witnesses to his skill. He has bound us up, and we are now saved from heartache, and made to praise him with our whole heart.
25. III. Our third theme is THE HONOURED PHYSICIAN, and this is the central point of the text. Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.”
26. Observe, first, that this honoured Physician gives personal attendance to the broken-hearted. He says, “He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Daniel said, “My God has sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths”; but as for you broken-hearted ones, you receive personal attendance from your Lord. The Lord has sent Jesus Christ himself because the task needs a divine hand. The Lord’s servants without their Lord can do no more than the staff of Elisha did when Gehazi laid it upon the dead child, but there was neither voice nor hearing. The great prophet himself is coming, and wonders will be seen among us. He is here at this moment in his own proper person, and he will not fail in any case that is brought to him. Many a great physician has so much practice that he is compelled to take a partner or an assistant, but my Lord is able to do all his work, and no one can interfere in it. Jesus himself personally, with his own pierced hands, continues to bind up the broken-hearted. Does this fact not tend to comfort you already? If Jesus undertakes to lift you up it will be done. He is the consolation of Israel, appointed to comfort all who mourn. Come, old Simeon, take him up in your arms, and forget the infirmities of age! Come, widowed Anna, and give thanks to God for him who is the husband of the lonely heart! He will himself wipe all tears from the eyes of his people, and he will do it now. Oh you who in your youth are bearing the yoke of grief, and declare that your life is blighted, say so no more; for Jesus comes to help you, even he himself. Remember the record, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord”: the same sight shall gladden you.
27. This physician is fully qualified. He is called Christos, or Christ, which means anointed; “The Lord has anointed me.” I am sure that Jesus can cure broken hearts, because God has given him the Spirit, even the Comforter, to rest upon him without measure, so that his words may drop with the oil of comfort. Oh, trust him now. He has all the fitness for his work that God can give him. He is complete, and we are complete in him. A broken heart needs oil to be poured into its wounds, and “Christ” is an oily name: he is christened a Saviour, anointed a healer. The good Samaritan poured in oil and wine; but here is heavenly oil in the hands of one who is himself the health of our countenance.
28. As if this were not enough, notice that our Lord is commissioned. “He has sent me,” he says. First, “anointed me”; then, “sent me.” Our Lord said to the blind man, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam,” which is, being interpreted, sent. How I wish that you who are broken-hearted would go and wash in this pool, and find comfort in the blessed fact that the anointed is sent by God to you. The Great Father thought so much of you that he sent a special messenger to heal you; yes, sent the best one there was in heaven, to be a missionary to you. No one else was fit to be second to him; but God emptied heaven of its superlative glory and sent his own Son down below so that he might bind up the broken heart — I cannot imagine a failure of this Messiah — the sent one. This is the Shiloh for whose salvation Jacob waited, looking for him who should be sent. This is the Apostle, or sent one of our profession, sent on purpose so that he might comfort all the heirs of sorrow. Jesus is carrying on a mission, a mission for the desolate. He is a missionary to the forlorn, commissioned to commiserate, appointed to relieve. Observe, then, his qualifications and his commission. He bears a diploma of the highest value. He is the royal physician; surgeon extraordinaire for all bleeding hearts; oh that you would put your mournful cases into his hands.
29. Remember also what he is in person and character, and I think you will at once say, “I will submit my broken heart to him, so that he may heal me.” For Jesus, your Physician, is one who knows heart-break by having felt it. He said, “My soul is extremely sorrowful even to death.” I will tell you one of the most terrible tormentors in the world, excelling even an Inquisitor, — it is an unfeeling comforter. Spare me from a man who comes to console me wearing a face of marble and a heart of stone. His words put grit into your wounds, or what if I say — salt? Job knew this dreadful affliction. Look, then, at the opposite of the picture: the best comforter is one who is touched with a feeling of our infirmity, since he was tempted in all points like we are. “No,” says the broken heart, “Christ never knew my pain.” Ah, but he did. What is it? That you have been slandered? Jesus cries, “Reproach has broken my heart.” Is it that you are forsaken by friends? Is it not written, “Then all the disciples forsook him and fled?” Is it that you are forsaken by God? Did not Jesus cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Is it that your cup is bitter? Did he not pray three times that the cup might pass from him, and still the cup was not removed? He leads you through no darker rooms than he went through before, and in all he is so tenderly sympathetic with you that he is the best Physician you can desire.
30. Besides, how gentle he is, as a mother with her child; meek and lowly in heart, considerate, tender; there was never one like him. He has soft fingers for sore places, sweet liniment for sharp cuts, and precious balm for bleeding wounds. The oil with which he was anointed has both perfume and potency about it; it is so sweet that those who are far away may perceive it, and it is so rare an ointment that it works its way and touches wounds which nothing else could reach. Jesus has great skill in bringing light into the dreary recesses of darkened minds.
31. Oh that you knew my Master. If you had seen him as my broken heart saw him on my first spiritual birthday, when I heard the word that says, “Look to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth”; I say, if you had seen him as I then saw him you would have rushed to his feet for healing. I was at the ends of the earth: I thought I was ready to slip over the bounds altogether, and sink into the abyss; but in obedience to his command, I looked. It was the dim look of a half-blinded eye; I looked through my tears, but hardly hoped to see him. Still I looked: I turned my eyes that way, and I resolved that if I were lost it should be lying at Jesus’ feet. I believed he was able to save me, and I left myself with him, and he has done great things for me, to which I cheerfully bear witness. He keeps on blessing me, and he will complete his work before long. I know whom I have believed, and I rest in him. Oh dear hearts that are breaking, I wish you would do as I did: I wish the same grace would lead you at once to fall at my Lord’s feet. Swoon away into Christ’s arms. Do not try to get stronger: be weaker, if you can be weaker. Be nothing, and let him be your all: die into his life.
Come, broken-hearted ones, do not try to bind yourselves up: you will
only wound yourselves all the more. Do not look for comfort into the
black and horrible abyss of your own nature, but look to him whom God
has sent. Get right away from what you are to what he is. Have
you a legion of demons in you? He is the demons’ Master, and can turn
them all out at once. Does the very Satan seem to hold you in his
grip? He who of old has fought the fiend and vanquished him will lead
your captives captive and take the prey from the mighty. If you must
despair, despair yourself into Christ: I mean by that self-despair
which is the next of kin to humble faith in Jesus drop into his hand.
Faint upon Christ’s bosom and lie there in happy helplessness. May
the Lord disable you for anything else, and lead you to believe in
his Anointed. God has sent you Jesus; will you not admit him? He is
able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him. Come,
then, at once and believe in him whom God has sent.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Isa 61 /ERV Lu 4:16-30]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 103” 103]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Deity and Incarnation — The Advent” 257]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Faith Struggling” 624]
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 103 (Version 1)
1 My soul, repeat his praise,
Whose mercies are so great;
Whose anger is so slow to rise,
So ready to abate.
2 God will not always chide;
And when his strokes are felt,
His strokes are fewer than our crimes,
And lighter than our guilt.
3 High as the heavens are raised
Above the ground we tread,
So far the riches of his grace
Our highest thought exceed.
4 His power subdues our sins;
And his forgiving love,
Far as the east is from the west,
Doth all our guilt remove.
5 The pity of the Lord,
To those that fear his name,
Far as the east is from the west,
He knows our feeble frame.
6 He knows we but dust,
Scatter’d with every breath;
His anger, like a rising wind,
Can send us swift to death.
7 Our days are as the grass,
Or like the morning flower;
If one sharp blast sweep o’er the field,
It withers in an hour.
8 But thy compassions, Lord,
To endless years endure;
And children’s children ever find,
Thy words of promise sure.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 103 (Version 2)
1 Oh bless the Lord, my soul!
Let all within me join,
And aid my tongue to bless his name,
Whose favours are divine.
2 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,
Nor let his mercies lie
Forgotten in unthankfulness,
And without praises die.
3 ‘Tis he forgives thy sins;
‘Tis he relieves thy pain;
‘Tis he that heals thy sicknesses,
And makes thee young again.
4 He crowns thy life with love,
When ransom’d from the grave;
He that redeem’d my soul from hell
Hath sovereign power to save.
5 He fills the poor with good,
He gives the sufferers rest;
The Lord hath judgments for the proud,
And justice for the oppress’d
6 His wondrous works and ways
He made by Moses known;
But sent the world his truth and grace
By his beloved Son.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 103 (Version 3) <8.7.4.>
1 Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet thy tribute bring!
Ransom’d, heal’d, restored, forgiven,
Who like me his praise should sing!
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Praise the everlasting King!
2 Praise him for his grace and favour
To our fathers in distress!
Praise him still the same as ever,
Slow to chide and swift to bless!
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him
Glorious in his faithfulness!
3 Father-like he tends and spares us,
Well our feeble frame he knows;
In his hands he gently bears us,
Rescues us from all our foes.
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Widely as his mercy flows.
4 Frail as summer’s flower we flourish;
Blows the wind, and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Praise the High Eternal One.
5 Angels, help us to adore him;
Ye behold him face to face;
Sun and moon bow down before him,
Dwellers all in time and space.
Praise him! praise him,
Praise him! praise him,
Praise with us the God of grace!
Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.
Jesus Christ, Deity and Incarnation
257 — The Advent
1 Hark, the glad sound, the Saviour comes,
The Saviour promised long!
Let every heart prepare a throne,
And every voice a song.
2 On him the Spirit, largely pour’d
Exerts its sacred fire;
Wisdom and might, and zeal and love,
His holy breast inspire.
3 He comes, the prisoners to release,
In Satan’s bondage held;
The gates of brass before him burst,
The iron fetters yield.
4 He comes, from thickest films of vice,
To clear the mental ray;
And on the eye balls of the blind
To pour celestial day.
5 He comes, the broken heart to bind,
The bleeding soul to cure;
And, with the treasures of his grace
To enrich the humble poor.
6 Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
Thy welcome shall proclaim;
And heaven’s eternal arches ring
With thy beloved name.
Philip Doddridge, 1755.
The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
624 — Faith Struggling <8s.>
1 Encompass’d with clouds of distress,
Just ready all hope to resign;
I pant for the light of thy face,
And fear it will never be mine:
Dishearten’d with waiting so long,
I sink at thy feet with my load;
All plaintive I pour out my song,
And stretch forth my hands unto God.
2 Shine, Lord, and my terror shall cease
The blood of atonement apply;
And lead me to Jesus for peace,
The rock that is higher than I:
Speak, Saviour, for sweet is thy voice,
Thy presence is fair to behold;
I thirst for thy Spirit with cries
And groanings that cannot be told.
3 If sometimes I strive, as I mourn,
My hold of thy promise to keep,
The billows more fiercely return,
And plunge me again in the deep:
While harass’d and cast from thy sight,
The tempter suggests with a roar,
“The Lord hath forsaken thee quite:
Thy God will be gracious no more.”
4 Yet Lord, if thy love hath design’d
No covenant blessing for me,
Ah, tell me, how is it I find
Some sweetness in waiting for thee?
Almighty to rescue thou art,
Thy grace is my only resource;
If e’er thou art Lord of my heart,
Thy Spirit must take it by force.
Augustus M. Toplady, 1772.